Gimbel confirmed today that he sent a letter to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele on Black's behalf. Gimbel said he believes Black is entitled to additional compensation because when she turned down a job offer in Chicago in exchange for a higher salary to stay in Milwaukee, she no longer was employed "at will" and she, in effect, became a quasi-contractual employee of the county.
Black received a raise of nearly $14,000 from Abele raise in August 2011. The raise brought her pay to $140,000.
Gimbel's letter said he believes that Abele's dismissal of Black "may have been wrongful."
The letter also requested various personal effects be returned to Black after she was abruptly locked out of her office last Thursday.
According to a report by CBS 58 News, Abele's decision to fire Black stemmed from a contract the Milwaukee County Board signed, at Black's urging, for a new lease of the Crystal Ridge Ski Hill in Franklin.
However, County Supervisor Pat Jursik told BizTimes today, "I highly discount that. It's been a very difficult agreement. If they're blaming Black for that, it's going to be a stretch."
Brendan Conway, Abele's communications director, issued the following statement: "County Executive Abele strongly supports public/private partnerships, and in the end we believe the Crystal Ridge deal has exciting potential for Milwaukee County taxpayers. However, under Sue Black's leadership, this proposal initially was rushed to the County Board without proper internal and DNR review. Fortunately, our office was able to increase the transparency of the process and put safeguards in place to minimize the risk to taxpayers," Conway said.
Jursik urged Abele to publicly disclose the reason he fired Black.
"That's the problem. I don't know why (Abele fired Black). This is a very high-profile person. I found that (silence) unacceptable," Jursik said.
Abele announced Thursday he is launching a national search to replace Black. Abele declined to disclose his reason for firing Black.
Black told BizTimes she was not given a reason for her dismissal.
"I can't really say anything. It's just shocking," Black said. "I don't think it was deserving. After 10 years, I deserve more. This is home. I love this place. I tried to make it a better place. I live and breathe it."
Abele appointed Jim Keegan, who was second-in-command at the Milwaukee County Parks Department, as the interim park director today.
"Jim brings great experience and enthusiasm to this role. He has the full support of his management team and the 1,000 workers who make our Milwaukee County Parks the jewels that they are," Abele said.
"I'm excited about the future of the Parks and the prospect of working closely with County Executive Abele and the County Board," Keegan said. "Residents should know their Parks system remains in the hands of people who have a proven track record of success and we will continue to strive for excellence every day."